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230-acre brush fire in Martin County fully contained, but smoke still an issue

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Posted at 1:09 PM, Jun 03, 2024

PALM CITY, Fla. — A Martin County brush fire that raged for several days and grew to more than 200 acres, forcing some residents to evacuate their homes, is now 100% contained, officials told WPTV on Monday.

The Florida Forest Service said the brush fire that broke out Thursday near the Stuart West community in Palm City burned approximately 230 acres.

Firefighters on Monday are still putting out anything that's smoldering and threatening the fire lines.

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Due to the size of the fire and our dry conditions, smoke is expected to still be an issue for several days, especially late at night and early in the morning, the Florida Forest Service said.

"Folks should use caution during that time while outside and on the roadways. If you have any medical issues, it’s best to stay indoors in the AC," Martin County Fire Rescue said Monday in a social media post.

The Florida Forest Service expects to see smoldering and burning within the containment area for several days.

Martin County Fire Rescue — which told WPTV over the weekend that this was one of the largest active fires in the state — said it will assist as needed.

"You may see some flare-ups and burning material in the areas that already burned. Florida Forest Service as well as MCFR will continue to mop up," Martin County Fire Rescue said in a social media post. "Please be assured that fire crews are actively monitoring the situation to prevent any potential flare-ups."

Several homes were asked to evacuate over the weekend out of an abundance of caution, but those residents were eventually cleared to return home.

There have been no reports of damaged homes or properties.

Bob Plotkin speaks about the tense moments when the fire broke out near his home over the weekend.
Bob Plotkin speaks about the tense moments when the fire broke out near his home over the weekend.

Bob Plotkin, who lives in the Stuart West community, saw the fire across the canal from his backyard.

"I was gonna be a fireman for a while but not with my little garden hose. I couldn't reach across the canal," Plotkin said. "What was scary was the fact that the flames were so high and the wind was so strong and it was going in the direction of south which really didn't bother us, but boy if it changed ... it would have certainly taken some glowing embers across the canal."

The Martin County Fire Rescue Station in Palm City is about 7 miles away from where the fire broke out. While Plotkin and his wife would like to see the county build a fire station closer to their community, they are grateful for the quick and effective response from firefighters.

"I was very glad the people who were firefighters were here right on time," Plotkin said. "The fire people were exceptional and all of them were friendly."

Dr. Dennis Cardriche, an emergency medicine doctor at HCA Florida St. Lucie Hospital, said as the smoke lingers, residents should try to limit their time outside.

"It could take minutes to provoke an attack, especially in an asthmatic," Cardriche said. "You'll have a runny nose, you'll have watery eyes, itchy throat, all of those things, most worrisome of course is it affects the lungs and people with underlying lung disease are most at risk, but it can affect anybody."